2018 Mini-grant Project

DRAW LogoThis project develops a unique, Montreal-specific citizen science curriculum and is looking to expand it to include new post-secondary institutions. Our curriculum furthers students’ understanding of weather,  climate, and their related social impacts. We integrate the Data Rescue: Archives and Weather (DRAW, https://citsci.geog.mcgill.ca/) website with student research assignments. The curriculum thus engages students with hands-on experience in data analysis using the data they …

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DRAW LogoThis project develops a unique, Montreal-specific citizen science curriculum and is looking to expand it to include new post-secondary institutions. Our curriculum furthers students’ understanding of weather,  climate, and their related social impacts. We integrate the Data Rescue: Archives and Weather (DRAW, https://citsci.geog.mcgill.ca/) website with student research assignments. The curriculum thus engages students with hands-on experience in data analysis using the data they rescued using the website and links this data to cultural and scientific aspects of Montreal’s heritage.

Through public outreach and citizen science, DRAW involves the Montreal public in the collection and transcription of weather information recorded between 1871 to 1964 in logbooks from the former McGill University Observatory.  DRAW in itself constitutes an interdisciplinary effort with researchers from McGill University’s Faculties of Arts, Science and Education, and in partnership with the McGill University Archives.

We first piloted and evaluated DRAW’s CEGEP curriculum in March and April of 2018 at Dawson College in the first year Social Science Research Methods course. The three-week curriculum focused on introducing students to citizen science generally, citizen science in environment and climate based fields and finally the importance of the transcription of historical weather data. We then asked the students to link the historical weather they rescued through the citizen science transcription with contemporary social conditions or events. The course’s main assignment required students to conduct their own research on the time period for which they transcribed data with DRAW by examining how the physical environment, as exemplified by the weather, related to human social, political and cultural processes. After transcribing one (or more) pages on the DRAW website, students referred to online digital and McGill University microfilm resources to investigate the social consequences of climatic or weather events in historical newspaper accounts, photos, texts and other primary sources from the time period. This helped them benefit from undertaking original social science research methods in fields that include historical climate science, archival research, analysis of original source material and data transcription.

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Updates - Project Status 

Resources

DRAW: 'Data Rescue: Archival and Weather

DRAW, which stands for ‘Data Rescue: Archival and Weather’, allows volunteers to participate in the transcription of historical weather logs captured at the McGill weather observatory since 1863. The weather information contained in these logs needs to be transcribed in a digital format in order to be used for scientific research.

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Tutorial Video on DRAW

Data Rescue : Archives & Weather (DRAW) Project Transcription Tutorial. Help us uncover the story of Montreal’s evolving climate captured in the McGill Observatory’s historical weather logs. Your transcriptions will help scientists and historians gain a better understanding of our environment and its impact on our city and its people.

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Knowledge and Skills Brought to the Project

Drew Bush – Has more than a decade of experience teaching students about Earth, ocean, and climate science and evaluating the impact of technology-based inquiry, citizen science, and service based curricula. Find out more about his work at http://tomlinson.lab.mcgill.ca/Drew/index.html.

Geoffrey Pearce – Has been teaching geography and environment courses at Dawson College for the last seven years and is presently the chair of the Geography Department. His present focus is on developing courses that engage students as researchers. He has created courses where students conduct oral histories about Montreal neighbourhoods and map their findings, and led the teaching of the DRAW module in his Research Methods (300-300-DW Section 07) course.

Victoria Slonosky – Is a historical climate researcher with more than two decades of experience analyzing past climates from early instrumental records from the 17th century onwards in both Canada and Europe.  She runs the Atmospheric Circulation Reconstruction over the Earth (ACRE) Canada data rescue project (https://sites.google.com/site/historicalclimatedata/Home) and DRAW. Her forthcoming book, Climate in the Age of Empire, details the historical climatology of the Saint-Lawrence River Valley and the work of early weather observers in colonial Canada.”

 

Project Leader